No Trivia

"Rock Cocaine" and Whitney Houston.

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A far more powerful sense of Whitney Houston’s “recovery” is found on the simple, direct cover of I Look To You than in that rather leading and insincere Oprah interview. On that cover, Houston looks forward, poised, a little worn out, from a certain angle about to cry, and maybe even in possesion of a bit of a receding hairline, but she’s not rail-thin and rambling or anymore.

Couple that album cover image with an actual listen to I Look To You, especially the fucking jam “Nothing But Love”, a slow-burn electro R & B “haters” song that at least feels sincere, and that’s about all the former Mrs. Bobby Brown should have to say about years smoking “rock cocaine”–not crack mind you, rock cocaine. The ravages of drug abuse are there in her voice, especially that weirdly stirring “shutup, shutup” but it works and the positive’s found in the simple fact that she made a new album and it’s pretty good. Therein lies the hope, alright??

But that’s not enough, so there’s this interview in which she brightens every time she tells Oprah about the how’s, why’s, and highs of drugs, all the while refusing to call the crack she mixed with her pot what it’s commonly called. Instead, falling back on the term “rock cocaine” and for who? Maybe it’s some kind of line she had to draw so that her problems seemed fixable or not too shameful, to never call it “crack”–like heroin addicts that refuse to shoot-up or dudes into piss-porn who look down on dudes into scat porn. I don’t know, but it’s unfortunate.

Maybe it’s some concession to Oprah’s primary audience, middle-aged white housewives, who’ve probably done coke–or are at least married to a guy who did coke, probably off a titty, at a bachelor party–but would scoff at “America’s sweetheart” smoking some crack. What should be a somewhat restorative pop tale gets wrapped-up middle-class pandering, depressing self-delusion, and in an oblique way, the draconian crack law or “black law” as it’s often called. Whitney’s playing the overexposure media game of the aughts too well–talking so much you just play yourself.

further reading/viewing:
-Dark Alliance: The CIA, The Contras, & the Crack Cocaine Explosion by Gary Webb
-”The History of Cocaine Rap” by Kris Ex from XXL
-”Cracking Open” by Michael Short from Washington Post
-A Day in the Death of Donny B (1969) directed by Carl Fick

Written by Brandon

September 17th, 2009 at 7:05 am

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